I am the type of person who, when someone asks me whether I want the good news first or the bad news, I always pick hearing the bad news first. business killing you

Here’s why: I want to get the bad news out of the way and end the conversation on a lighter note and with positivity. A lot of the pet sitting and dog walking business owners that I coach do that also. It happens when we are going over their successes and disappointments at the beginning of their coaching session.

“Which do you want to share first..your disappointments or successes?” I will ask. Inevitably they will pick the disappointments first.

So…that’s what I’m going to do here, pet sitters and dog walkers. I am going to start with the ‘bad news’.

Here it is:

It’s been said that ‘compassion fatigue’ is killing some members of our pet business industry. Compassion fatigue has many of the symptoms of PTSD, among them being depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. Dr. Yin was a well-known and beloved dog trainer who committed suicide last year. Many of those closest to her believe that her suicide was caused from Compassion Fatigue. yin

Jessica Dolce is a certified compassion fatigue educator. She says:

“Compassion fatigue is an occupational hazard of our work with animals, whether you are an animal control officer or kennel attendant in a small town or an internationally recognized veterinarian. Our work requires that we compassionately and effectively respond to the constant demand to be helping to those who are suffering and in need.“

Compassion fatigue comes from caring for people and pets and forgetting to care for ourselves. It comes from not putting the oxygen mask on ourselves first.

Pet care providers (dog walkers, dog trainers, pet sitters, pet groomers, doggy day care owners and other pet business owners) often find themselves shelving their needs and wants for those of their human and animal clients. This leads to burnout which leads to exhaustion which can then lead to compassion fatigue and all that comes along with it (depression, anxiety and wanting to ‘end it all’). Are you at the burnout stage or are you experiencing compassion (and business) fatigue?

Psychotherapist J. Eric Gentry tells the Sacramento Bee:

“Animal care professionals are some of the most pain-saturated people I have ever worked with. The very thing that makes them great at their work, their empathy and dedication and love for animals, makes them vulnerable.”

Here are just a few ways of how compassion fatigue can manifest to the detriment of some the pet sitters and dog walkers that I’ve worked with:

-No time for family and friends. This can result in a deep and dark loneliness and despair over time if left unchanged.

-No downtime to just BE. The compulsion to check smart phone, pet sitting and dog walking business software, voicemail, computer, Facebook and other social media sites becomes an obsession/addiction. This results in always feeling like the pet sitting business owner is ‘on’ and always working.

-When a vacation or day off is scheduled the pet business owner finds it challenging (and in some cases impossible) to follow through on that vacation or take that day off due to client’s needs and neediness. This results in a sense of life being only about work by placing client needs above the needs of the pet business owner.

-If a vacation or day off is scheduled and the pet sitting business owner does goes away or enjoys a day off inevitably some business emergency happens and the pet sitting business owner comes rushing back to the office or client to take care of whatever went wrong in their absence. (Or they will find themselves not enjoying their vacation/day off but rather ruminating about what happened. This can lead to despair from never getting that break that is so desperately needed.)

I know compassion fatigue from personal experience because I suffered from it though I called it ‘business burnout’ when I had it. I was working 12-14 hours a day in my pet sitting businesses (working to the point of exhaustion) and I felt anxious and depressed a lot during that time. It took me a long time to recover and it started with working less and setting more boundaries in my work and in my life. It wasn’t easy. But I did recover. And you can too.

So how can pet sitters and dog walkers combat (and recover from!) compassion fatigue? good news

Okay so I promised you good news and here it is. There are tangible ways to deal with compassion (and business) fatigue.

Just a quick note before you read the tips below because…

You can read all the tips in the world but if you don’t follow them then they won’t help. The key then is to begin to make some big and small changes in your business and your life. Start small by picking one from the list below. And yes, it probably will feel uncomfortable. Changing behaviors and ingrained ways of being always does feel uncomfortable when we first begin. But this is your LIFE we are talking about here. You are worth it. Your pet business will be just fine and your clients will respect you more too when you follow these tips. Remember: we teach others how to treat us. This includes your clients, staff, friends and family.

1. Set office hours and keep them. This means NOT checking email, text messages, computer and voicemail at times other than your scheduled office hours. I know, it’s not easy. But it will get easier over time. Be sure to have these office hours posted on your automatic email to clients as well as listed on your voicemail so clients know when they can expect you to contact them.

2. Stop sending and receiving business texts. Clients and staff members often expect instant replies when they text. And when you reply quickly and outside of your office hours this gets them in the mindset that you are available all the time. If you REALLY need to continue receiving and sending texts then let your staff and clients know you will only be texting between your office hours. Hide your business phone from yourself. Turn off the ringer. Stick it in a drawer. Do whatever you need to do to separate yourself from your business cell phone.

3. Set up a minimum of 2 one-week vacations each year. Put these dates in your calendar. Make them sacred and immovable by not letting clients or business get in the way of your actually going away. These two weeks a year are yours. You deserve them.

4. Put exercise in your schedule and do it 4-5 times a week. No matter what. Exercise helps with depression, anxiety and despair and these are all symptoms of compassion fatigue. I recently coached a pet sitter who had the hardest year she’s ever had (family members died suddenly in an auto accident, her business was struggling, etc.) She kept exercising in spite of the challenges that had come her way and she not only lost 20 pounds but she was also able to deal with her stress and anxiety in a healthy way.

5. Enjoy your hobby once a week. If you don’t have a hobby write a list of things you’d like to explore doing and pick one from the list to see if you enjoy it. A good hobby will refresh and energize you. If yours does, then keep doing it. If it doesn’t, find something that takes your mind off work and allows you to expand and grow in new ways.

6. Cultivate your relationships like the living, growing beings that they are. Your friendships need to be watered. Many pet business owners that I’ve spoken with have few or no friends. It’s sad but true. The reason for this is they turn down invitations from friends or don’t initiate getting together and after awhile friends will stop asking and/or you will grow apart. Even getting together with one friend once a month can make a world of difference in your emotional and mental outlook in your business and your life. We need others. Make time for your friends. They are worth it and so are you.

7. Pick 2 exciting-to-you goals that have nothing to do with your pet sitting business and set out to accomplish them. Focusing on non-business activities creates a rich inner and outer life (you will find yourself thinking about other things other than you business which will give your ‘business brain’ a well-needed rest). These life goals could include dating and/or getting married, starting an veggie garden, buying a home, or perhaps learning to play piano. The world is your oyster. What sounds fun and exciting to you?

It can be very challenging for pet sitters and dog walkers to put themselves first, above their clients and client pets. Your very life may be at stake if you don’t so please, please take (good) care of yourself.

About the author: Kristin Morrison started her pet care company in 1995 and it grew to be one of the largest pet care companies in California before she sold it Kristin4in 2013. Kristin provides business coaching for thousands of pet sitters, dog walkers, dog trainers, and pet groomers across the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia. In 2008 she founded Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy™ and Six-Figure Pet Business Academy™ providing coaching, webinars and business products for pet business owners. Kristin wrote the books Six-Figure Pet Sitting and Six-Figure Pet Business which can be found in print on Amazon and in eBook format on her websites: www.SFPSA.com and www.SFPBacademy.com.

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Got pet sitting or dog walking business issues, challenges or pain points?

I have helped thousands of pet sitters and dog walkers make more money, have more fun running their pet sitting businesses and create more time to do the things they love (besides running their pet sitting businesses). woman with many dogs

If you are a pet sitter or dog walker I can help you too!

Read what pet sitters and dog walkers have to say about receiving pet sitting coaching from me.

Find out what I work on with pet sitters and dog walkers and how I work as a pet sitting and dog walking business coach.

If you are a pet sitter or dog walker who is ready to take your business from where you are now to where you want to be, I am ready for you!

To your success,  Kristin4

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How’s your online reputation for your pet sitting or dog walking business these days? online reputation correctWhen you Google your pet sitting or dog walking business do you have good things come up…or not-so-good things show up?

I’ve recently had a few business owners ask me how to ‘hide’ not-so-good things that are being said about them online.

Though you (alas!) can’t delete negative comments online there are powerful steps you can take to reduce the possibility of a potential client seeing something that you you’d rather they didn’t. Here’s how…

1. Search for your name AND your pet sitting or dog walking business name on Google. (Make sure to click on the ‘images’ section that is in Google too to see what’s coming up.)

2. If you discover something negative or online content that you wish wasn’t there, create new online content. Creating more blog posts is the easiest and quickest way to do this. Be sure to occasionally include your name and your pet sitting or dog walking business name in the blog post title and often include it in the category and tag section of your blog posts. You can also create some positive reviews by putting a client testimonial in your blog post.

3. Get listed on LinkedIn if you are not already on there. Be sure to have a picture of yourself or your business logo in your profile.

4. Create a ‘Google alert’ for your name (obviously easier if your name is unusual) and your business name. Just google ‘Google alert’ to sign up for this free service.

5. Get listed on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Be sure to create a Facebook business page too. Social media sites come up high on the search engines so you want to be on as many as you can even if you are not often active on all of them.

Put these action items on your to do list this week so you can begin to clean up your online reputation! Kristin4

To your success,

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Want a free pet business coaching session or some pet business products (or both!) ...and some fame and glory for you and your pet?1900329_10201766744790356_774646537_o

The Six-Figure Photo Contest starts TODAY and ends on May 15, 2015!

It’s easy to submit your contest photo for a chance to win.

Here’s how (and what!) you can win:

1. Take a picture of your pet with one of the Six-Figure books (selfies with you, your pet and the book are great too!)

2. Post your photo entry on my Facebook page, or the Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy FB page or Six-Figure Pet Business Academy FB page starting TODAY and until May 15, 2015.

Submit your picture of your pet with one of the six-figure books and you could be this year’s winner!

Here are the prizes for the 2015 Photo Contest Winners*:

First Place Winner Will Receive:

  • 50-Minute Business Coaching Session with Kristin
  • $250 Worth of Pet Business Products
  • Choice of Any Two Upcoming Webinars

Second Place Winner Will Receive:

  • 25-Minute Business Coaching Session with Kristin
  • $150 Worth Of Pet Business Products
  • Choice of Any Two Upcoming Webinars

Third Place Winner Will Receive:

  • $50 Worth of Pet Business Products
  • Choice of Any One Upcoming WebinarChelsea 003

*Contest ends on Friday, May 15, 2015 so enter your photos soon! One photo entry per person please. Winners will be chosen on or before June 15, 2015 and all awarded product and webinar selections must be chosen by winners on or before June 30, 2015. Coaching sessions for contest winners must be completed by June 30, 2015.

Good luck to you all!

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Hi pet sitters and dog walkers,

For a limited time, I’m offering a FREE pet sitting and dog walking tips and tools booklet for you, my blog post readers!

This pet sitting and dog walking business tips and tools booklet is adapted from my book Six-Figure Pet Sitting.

Click to download the FREE pet sitting and dog walking tips booklet now.

Wishing you so much pet sitting business success!

Kristin Morrison signatureKristin4

 

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Warning: If you don’t want to create the best 12 months you’ve ever had starting now, do NOT download this FREE 11-page workbook. woman best year

But… if you DO want to create your best year yet… then definitely check this out.

Pet sitting and dog walking business owners who set clear, measurable goals are more likely to achieve them. (And pet business owners who have used this workbook have reported remarkable shifts in their businesses and their lives…in only 12 months!)

Click to download the FREE Create Your Best Year Yet Workbook for Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers now.

 

 

 

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Want to get your pet sitting and dog walking website high on Google and the other search engines?Google unzipped

Search Engine Optimization for Pet Sitters is here!

Here are the most common questions I get regarding my Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Coaching for Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers. If you are ready to get high up Google, read on…

Q. I want to get my pet sitting website at the top of Google and other search engines. I see that the Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy™ offers Search Engine Optimization coaching.  Can you tell me a little bit about how that works?
A.
Sure. First of all, Coach Kristin is sold on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because a few years ago she optimized her own pet sitting and dog walking website using the SEO steps that she goes over in her SEO coaching for pet sitters and within less than 2 months of optimizing her pet sitting website her phone started ringing and hasn’t stopped since!  (She sold her business in 2013 and the new owner reaped the benefit of all that SEO–and having top SEO on the website assisted Kristin in getting a higher price for her business as well!)

About 85% of her new client calls were a direct result of people finding her pet sitting business online.  When Kristin sold her business she got anywhere from 3-15 (!) new client calls a day from people finding her on Google and other search engines.  (Now she can help you experience those results!)

Having a Six-Figure Search Engine Optimization™ coaching session for your pet sitting website will benefit you in two money-making ways: 

1)   Within just 3-6 weeks of making the SEO changes your pet sitting company will receive MANY more calls than before you did the SEO work. 

2)   You won’t have to spend thousands of dollars on other forms of advertising that don’t generate results.
The only cost for this simple yet incredibly effective form of advertising is one single SEO session with Coach Kristin ($195) and then the cost to pay your web person to make the changes (unless you are your web person!)

If you have a website, having your site optimized for the search engines is the single most effective form of advertising that you can do for you business.

Q. Okay, how do I sign up for a Search Engine Optimization session and can you tell me what happens after I make an appointment?
A.
Sure, here is how you sign up and what happens: sign up on this page to set up a Search Engine Optimization for Pet Sitters coaching session. Once you pay for your session, Coach Kristin will contact you with some days and times for you. You simply choose the one that works best for you. In just one 45-minute SEO coaching session with Coach Kristin, you will receive easy, step-by-step instruction on what keywords need to be on your site and where these keywords need to be as well as other important key elements that are guaranteed to get you high on Google and other search engines!
You then give that information to your web person who places the html code on your site or you can make the changes yourself if you are the web person.

3-6 weeks after the changes have been made on your website simply watch your website show up higher on Google than it was before.

Most pet sitters excitedly report that not only are they on the first page of Google but they often find their business website close to (or at) the very top of Google about 3-6 weeks after their SEO coaching session!

Q. I need Search Engine Optimization Coaching for Pet Sitters so I can get my website higher up on Google! If I send my $195 payment today how soon can I schedule a SEO coaching session?
A.
Coach Kristin is often booked with SEO coaching sessions the same week you pay. However, if she can fit you in that same week, she will! Otherwise your SEO session can usually be scheduled for the following week.

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pick twoA few years ago I contacted a web designer and told him I wanted a new website created in a hurry. He said, “I can do it cheap, fast or good. But you can only pick two. Which two do you want?”

Your pet sitting and dog walking clients may want all three too but guess what? It’s impossible to get all three in business…unless you want to go out of business because you aren’t making a profit.

If you are a ‘cheap pet sitter’ you are going to begin to get resentful (always happens when the pet sitter wakes up and realizes his or her price are well below market rate). If you try to raise your price too much, too fast then your clients will get resentful. (You don’t want that.) Raising your rates yearly (even by just $1) will help ease the resentment factor and bring your low prices to market rate sooner than if you wait years before raising them.

If you really need clients and some are cheap clients wanting discounts I recommend lowering the amount of time that you’ll spend with the pet. So if your regular 30-minute visit is $18 a visit, offer to do a 15-minute visit for $16. In this way the client will feel like they are getting something and you will have more time for more full price visits. (Obviously you’ll want to make sure that the pet who is getting less time will be well taken care of in 15-minutes. A 15-minute visit works well for shy cats who hide under the bed.)

If you are a sitter who says yes to last minute pet sits and dog walks you will also get resentful. So charge for those last minute sits. I recommend charging your clients a $20-$30 Last Minute Fee (LMF) for those clients who need to meet you or one of your sitters in less than 3 days. If UPS can charge for last minute delivery so can you!

And good? Well, if you aren’t good you won’t be in business very long. Good should always be a part of your business practice. And even better…strive for great. If you are great at what you do your clients will love you and thank you. (And refer you to their friends and neighbors.)

So the next time a client calls and says, “I need you to pet sit tomorrow. I need a low rate and I need you to do a great job with my dog” simply say, “Sure. You can have any two. Which two do you want? Cheap, fast or good?”

 

 

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Employee Handbook Bigger ImageI’ve had a number of you pet sitters ask me for a pet sitting employee handbook and I’ve listened to you!

I get it. You are a busy pet sitting business owner and haven’t had the time to create an employee handbook. Perhaps you’ve recently converted your ICs to employees. Or…perhaps you’ve needed a pet sitting employee handbook for a very long time and it has gone to the bottom of your to do list because it’s such an ordeal to create one from scratch.  Whatever the reason, you just know you need one. Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy is here to help!

If you think it’s challenging to create a handbook and that perhaps creating an employee handbook from scratch is a BEAST to create, you are right.  (This one was a beast to create!)

Our pet sitting employee handbook is the perfect ready-made template. You can edit it as much as you like and insert your own pet sitting business, city and state information and offer it to your employees. Unlike most employee handbooks, this one is geared specifically for pet sitters and dog walkers.  It was created by two pet sitters and also HR team AND an employment lawyer.

Because each city and state differs in terms of employment law we recommend that with the purchase of any employee handbook or legal document that you purchase (whether it be from us or from somewhere else) that you have a local lawyer review it to see if there’s anything that your city or state might require.

This employee handbook contains 54 pages of policies and procedures as well as a lot of necessary information to help your employees do their job in the best possible way and with the least hassle for you. It’s for both dog walking and pet sitting employees and it comes in Word doc format so it’s fully customizable. You can edit the handbook to your heart’s content (though we predict you’ll be very happy with how thorough this pet sitting employee handbook is!)

And guess what? You’ll receive the handbook within 60 seconds of purchasing! How’s that for easy?

Click to find out more and to purchase the Pet Sitting Employee Handbook now.

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HiringTeleclassImageHi there pet sitters and dog walkers,

Got pet sitting or dog walking staff members?

If not, do you want to hire some great people this year? Or…do you consistently hire horrible people? (Don’t worry if you do, there’s hope!)

Guess What? Fear Is Normal. If you haven’t yet hired, you may be feeling some fear about hiring. If so, that’s normal when you are new to hiring (and it’s actually a good thing that keeps you on your toes about hiring the right person). But too much fear can lead to bad decisions or (eek!) no decision at all. And without staff you are working 24/7. Not fun.

 

Is Your ‘Picker’ Off?  If you do have staff members, are they GREAT staff members? Lots of pet sitters are just that…great pet sitters. But they have a hard time making the shift to picking the right people and hiring great staff members. And it IS a big shift to go from pet sitter to someone hiring pet sitters.

 

I Had a Bad Picker Too. Then I Made Big Shifts.  I had a lot of fear around hiring pet sitters too (kept me awake far too many nights when I was first hiring!) When I did hire early on, my staff choices were horrible. But then I discovered foolproof ways that made the hiring process nearly painless and helped me hire incredible people. I hired about 250 pet sitters in the 18 years that I owned my pet sitting business.

 

My Favorite Pet Sitting Staff Compliment Ever. The most common compliment given about my pet sitting company was: “I don’t know where you find your pet sitting and dog walking staff but they are ALL so wonderful.”  Ahh….music to my ears.

 

Hiring Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers. Made Easy. I’m excited to share with you proven ways that will help YOU hire great staff too. At the end of this month I’m teaching a webinar that will help you hire wonderful pet sitters and dog walkers. Click for more information and to sign up now for the webinar How to Hire Great Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers.

 

Looking forward to help you hire wonderful pet sitters and dog walkers so you can get a much-needed break (or just get some office work done!)

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